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How to Get a Copy of a DEA License

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 19, 2019
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certificate for you to fill in image by Peter Baxter from Fotolia.com

The Drug Enforcement Administration provides a unique number to healthcare providers that allows them to write prescriptions for controlled substances. This number is used by the DEA to track those controlled substances from the prescriber. It is not possible to get a copy of a DEA license without having access to certain information. However, you can look up a DEA license and verify its validity in a variety of ways.

Obtaining a Copy of Your DEA License

To obtain a copy of your DEA license, visit the DEA website under the Diversion Control Division. There, navigate to the duplicate certificate login screen. First, enter your DEA number. Then, enter your last name or the name of your business as it appears on your registration. If you provided either your Social Security number or tax identification number when you originally applied, you'll need to enter those, as well.

Once you've completed these fields, log in. You will be asked to confirm your address so that your DEA license copy will be sent to the correct address. You should receive the certificate within 30 days.

This method is effective if you have the required information outlined above. In most cases, only the DEA license holder will have this information, and they subsequently will be the only ones who may request a copy of their license.

DEA License Verification

If you do not have a tax ID or Social Security number in order to request a copy of a provider's DEA license, you should be able to at least verify its validity. Every DEA number is comprised of three characters that each identify a different part of the controlled substance prescription.

  • The first part of a DEA number is two letters that identify the type of healthcare provider that registered for the DEA number. While the first letter is random, the second letter is the first letter of the provider’s last name. The letter "g" is used if the license is under a business name, rather than an individual's.
  • After the letters is a seven-digit number. The last number in this line is called a “check number.” 

You can check a DEA number yourself in a few steps. Here is a quick example for a DEA number “AB2756344.” Add the 1st, 3rd, and 5th digit of the number: 2+5+3 = 10. Then, add the 2nd, 4th, and 6th digit of the number: 7+6+4 = 17. Then, multiply that number by 2: 17 * 2 = 34. Lastly, add the result from the first step to the result from the last step, 10+34 = 44. Compare that number to the last number of the DEA AB2756344 (4=4).

Because these numbers match up, you can tell that it is a valid DEA number. If you remember to add the odd, then add the even digits, it will make calculating the number on your own easier. Technology allows you to use a computer to check if DEA numbers are valid, which means that DEA agents do not have to individually check every script for a controlled substance.

The DEA provides a list of active registrants to the National Technical Information Service. This list may be purchased by anyone wishing to gain information on a particular practitioner.

Variations on DEA Licenses

DEA licenses are state-specific. This means that each state needs to be able to track a practitioner’s prescriptions via its own licensing system. As a result, if you practice medicine and write prescriptions for controlled substances, you need to have a separate DEA license for each state where you practice.

DEA licenses are practitioner-specific, not health-network specific. This means that if you practice medicine in three states due to your location, you will have three separate DEA licenses if you plan to write scripts for controlled substances in those states.

DEA Licenses and Antibiotics

Because DEA numbers track controlled substances, prescribers don’t generally need one to write scripts for most antibiotics. Scripts for items that are not considered scheduled drugs are not checked by the DEA. Writing a script for a simple antibiotic for a patient is extremely routine in most general practices. DEA numbers are used only to track scheduled drugs and controlled substances. You can prescribe anything that is not controlled without using your DEA number.

DEA License Lookup

With the paid registration fee of $731, practitioners can obtain a DEA number valid for three years. It is important to keep up with your registration. If it expires, you will have a gap in the time during which you can prescribe controlled medications to patients. If you have questions about your DEA number, check the DEA’s website. It is also possible to log in with your personal information and verify your own DEA information.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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